Thursday, December 30, 2010

Further definition on the Google map challenge

At the end of the last post, I expressed hope that our neighbors had good records since I noticed something in the Google Maps images of our neighborhood that related to their activities. The image below is a wider view of a portion of our neighborhood (images courtesy of Google Maps, copyright 2010) that shows our house at the bottom left and two colored squares that denote the objects of interest.

I first noticed the object in the green square on the road, and quickly identified it as belonging to our neighbors. A closer view is shown below.

That's our neighbor's blue tractor pulling a grain wagon, that appears to be laden with corn. It's headed back to the grain bin, so the combine is probably not far away.

Here's a closer view of what's in the yellow box. Sure enough, that's their yellow combine making its way through the field in the valley. A check of their records indicates that field was harvested on October 5 and 6. In the image, the field appears to be less than half harvested, and the shadows seem to mark the time of day slightly before noon, so my neighbor's comment on the previous post that the image was taken at 11:03 AM on October 5th is probably as close as we'll get. With that knowledge, I think we can all sleep soundly now.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Deductions on the Google map challenge

Several readers have submitted insightful speculations on the date of the aerial photo currently describing our home on Google Maps. Since many of you probably don't know our yard as intimately as I do, I'll share my observations so we can try to narrow the photo date as closely as possible.

The "A" in the photo below identifies the teeter totter, which according to a previous post was placed into service on September 17. Unfortunately, I'm not able to tell from this image whether the upper level of the pivot is complete or not. On to the next clue.

The "B" on the left side of the photo designates the approximate location in the field that serves as our corn-measuring spot. Apparent in this photo, and even more apparent if you zoom out to see more of the cornfield, is the fact that the field has been harvested, and tilled. We know from another post that harvest happened on September 7 (which doesn't narrow the satellite image date), but we haven't noted in the blog when the tilling took place. We do, however, have a post about the second crop of corn that grew this fall, and a photo from September 27 that shows the field untilled. That helps, and we can narrow the photo to sometime between September 27 and December 16 when we first posted the Google Map image.

Moving on to item "C." Some readers noticed the absence of the gravel path from the house to the barn as described in another post. That post was dated November 11, but I know that the path was built the previous Saturday, November 6. That narrows the image down to about a 40-day window, Sep 27 to Nov 6, but I think we can do better than that.

Area "D" on the image locates a bare-dirt section of the yard that I tilled the same day Farmer Wagenbach tilled the big field next to us. As I recall, that was October 2. That day I was able to sow a bit of the grass seed on the south end of the dirt patch and immediately watered only that section. Over the next week, I eventually sowed all the grass seed, and began watering the entire patch. The Google Maps image appears to show damp earth only on the south end of the patch, so I think the image must have been taken sometime in that first full week of October, and at the latest, sometime in the second week. That's the best I can do with the data I have right now, but if my neighbors have good records, we might be able to narrow the date further. If so, you'll be the first to know!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Google map challenge

Google Maps recently updated the image of our neighborhood as you can see below (image courtesy of Google Maps, copyright 2010, of course). A few things grabbed my attention as I looked at the image, such that I began to wonder if I could pinpoint the day the photo was taken. Can you?

Maybe you'll notice something I didn't, but there should be enough information in the photo and in previous blog posts to narrow the date range considerably. Leave your best guess in the comments area, and if you're familiar with our neighborhood, feel free to look for clues at the neighbor's houses also. Thanks for the help!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More wind than we need

Even though we haven't received a lot of snow, and the wind is only gusting to 40 mph, that's enough to create "white-out" conditions and make us glad we're inside today. On the bright side, the snow fence appears to be doing it's job, and we should have a few nice drifts to play in by the time the storm is done. Here's a short video of the snow in the backyard at 11:32 this morning (which might be more entertaining in full screen mode on YouTube):

If you listen closely, you can hear "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" in the background.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Beautiful sunset #17

Frequently, when I'm photographing a sunset, I'm not sure at which moment the sunset looks the best. I think this is a pretty good solution: 114 photos stitched together to represent our sunset from 4:40 to 5:12 PM, but accelerated so you can enjoy the whole thing in only 15 seconds.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The nicest thing the county health department has said to me all year:

"Your effluent results were within acceptable limits."

Praise God for sparing me another trip into the depths of the earth. For a better perspective on what I'm talking about, feel free to read our previous posts here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The best things about Wisconsin

We just got back from spending a few days in Wisconsin, and we feel qualified to share with you what we believe are the best things about Wisconsin (in no particular order).

The Capitol building in Madison is built around a magnificent rotunda and is the only state Capitol ever built on an isthmus. The photo above is the view of the inside of the rotunda from about 200 feet below its peak. The mural in the middle is titled "Resources of Wisconsin," and though I do have a fairly clear photo of it, I'll not share it since not everyone in the mural is fully clothed. The ceiling of this rotunda is the only granite dome in the United States. I'm told the view is best enjoyed while lying with your back on the floor in the middle of the room, but I chose the second best option of craning your neck to view directly above you.

This is the view from the west gallery looking across to the east gallery which happens to be the home of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. If you look closely you'll see a larger-than-life gold badger perched above the door leading into the court room. I'll leave it to you to determine the significance of a 1,000 pound badger overseeing the activities of the highest court.

Also visible in this view are some of the 43 varieties of stone found in the building, which was built from 1906 to 1917 and cost $7.25 million. That was probably a lot back then, and for all we know, the state might still be trying to pay off the debt.

We think the outside is pretty in a Capitol sort of way also. To our amazement and delight there were no metal detectors, no x-ray scanners, and no enhanced pat-downs -- one just walks right in.

Another one of the best things about Wisconsin is Mill End Textiles in Eau Claire. We became fans of the chain of stores when we lived in Minnesota, and occasionally find opportunity to visit when we're "in the area." They don't have everything, but they have a decent selection of wools and fleeces, and the employees are very generous. When measuring fabric, they include about four extra inches in each yard, and when we checked out they gave us the coupon price even though we had no knowledge that a coupon existed. Consequently, we bought 7 yards of wool suiting for less than $9. Total. Did I tell you this place is one the best things about Wisconsin?

Although it may be hard to tell in the photo above, Karen and Lily are in the process of successfully matching two fabrics for a dress for Karen. Those expressions show a small fraction of the satisfaction they actually felt when they realized how little they had to pay for the fabric.

The last "best thing" I'll share is The Swiss Colony outlet store in Monroe. You may be familiar with this mail order and internet company famous for their cheeses, meats, and chocolate desserts. The Swiss Colony headquarters and factory is just down the street from this retail store that not only has many of the catalog items, but also has factory seconds on several of its desserts. At significant discounts.

Okay, maybe these aren't the BEST things about Wisconsin, but on this trip, they come pretty close.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Construction update #37

The barn has been mostly finished for about two years now, and it's been pretty natural to just walk across the yard to get to it. Somehow, natural didn't seem very civilized though. I've been quick to offer tours to anyone that cares to humor me, but sometimes the ground is soft when you want to lead someone across the yard, making the trip less than pleasant. Especially for civilized ladies.

Like any good gentleman, I want to keep the ladies happy, (and I'd rather walk on a path than through the mud) so the path to the barn finally found its way to the top of the project list. The fact that the path meanders a bit on the way to the barn is purely intentional for a couple of reasons. First, anyone can make a straight path (notice the path along the side of the barn). Second, a meandering path is a whole lot cuter than a straight path, and we all know it's all about the cuteness!

As always, here's a view from the roof of the house. You can't see all of the new path, but you can see enough to recognize that the trip to the barn will be civilized from here on. Now maybe I should add the rail to the stairs in the back....

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Good news, bad news

The good news is... Karen's engagement ring and wedding band are welded together so they are easy to remove and keep track of.

The bad news is... they get dirty when she wears them while washing dishes.

The good news is... they come off easily so they stay clean longer.

The bad news is... they sometimes get misplaced.

The good news is... they are usually on the windowsill by the kitchen sink.

The bad news is... they weren't there this time.

The good news is... she put the rings in her pocket.

The bad news is... they fell out of her pocket.

The good news is... our friends found the rings in their driveway.

The bad news is... the diamond was missing from the engagement ring.

The good news is... we found the diamond in the same driveway.

The bad news is... it's not Karen's diamond.

The good news is... it's bigger and better than Karen's old diamond.

The bad news is... it won't fit in the engagement ring setting.

The good news is... my cousin married a jeweler and he has a shop only four miles from our home.

Okay, the part about the bigger diamond isn't true. The good news is, the rings are back, Karen's diamond is back, and I'm confident my cousin's husband can put them back together again. A happy ending after all!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reformation Day Faire, Day 2

Saturday started cloudy and rainy, but the weather didn't dampen our desire to celebrate the work of the Lord in the Reformation of the 16th century, and anticipate his reforming work in our time.

The banner is still performing faithful service on its third outing.

Sir John Walsh (aka James McDonald) shared his observations on William Tyndale's role in the Reformation, and his impact on the culture around him.

Meanwhile, Charlie was hard at work preparing his tribute to the work of the reformers through the medium of crayon and coloring book.

This was the only time I was able to get a photo of Kevin Swanson standing still. Some favorite KS quotes from this weekend:
"Revival lasts for a short time. Reformation lasts for generations and means our children and grandchildren walk with the Lord."
"What the government controls, in general, it destroys."

Caleb, and his little brother Joshua (not pictured), got new matching costumes this year, placing them firmly in the running for the "Cutest Kid in a Peasant Outfit" competition.

Lily and Karen were also sporting new clothing. This time they're dressed as mid 16th century Flemish peasants... and very cute Flemish peasants if you ask me.

Because it was raining at the start of the Market Square, all the booths were set up inside. That did not dissuade the Degenharts as they took on the world on the chess boards.

Lily and Gretel had help from Ashly on the first shift at the bag-making booth -- and had plenty of customers. I think the kids must be catching on as no one sewed their bag to the tablecloth this year!

After the Market Square, the rain let up enough to enjoy the Highland Games at the park. Here's Gretel cautiously observing the hoop rollers while she readies herself to unsheath her dagger should the need arise.

The security squad also enjoyed new uniforms this year, blending 16th century fashion with 21st century electronics.

The caber toss was as popular as ever. In this shot, someone's dad shows excellent form, making one wonder if he has Scottish ancestry.

Peter also showed good form, and intensity almost as great as all the competitors behind him! You'll have to enlarge this one to appreciate the expressions on the faces of the onlookers.

The next generation of caber tossers looks on with varying degrees of interest.

As always, the English country dancing on Saturday evening was very popular. Thanks to all who joined us this year, and a warm invitation to all you others to join us next year. Thanks for visiting the blog!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Reformation Day Faire, Day 1

Charlie Zahm blessed us with his music again this year, beginning with this concert this evening. The afternoon sessions featured teaching from Marcus Serven and Kevin Swanson, but unfortunately, I wasn't present to photograph or enjoy those presentations.

The crowd was large, but not yet packed to the limit.

Although this is a bit blurry due to the low light conditions, you'll have to trust me that this guy sings really well.

Mr. and Mrs. Castle enjoying the concert.

Here's Elder Price busy with his portrait service. Business was already brisk and the weekend is just beginning!

Part of the cry of The Reformation: Sola Fide, by faith alone.

I'll try to get more photos tomorrow, and hopefully comments that are more insightful. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Corn in the backyard 2010 redux?

Most of the corn is harvested by now around here, but there's an interesting phenomenon occurring in most of those harvested fields: a second crop of corn. It's possible to get a couple crops of wheat harvested in a year around here, but I don't believe I've ever seen two crops of corn on the same ground. This year the conditions were right: an early harvest, warm weather following harvest, a bit of rain, and enough hours of sunlight to coax thousands of stray kernels to produce armies of volunteer baby cornstalks.

It doesn't seem to matter if the field has been tilled or not, most all of them have these little boogers popping up in a much more random fashion than their parent plants in the spring.

So, of course, a post about corn in the backyard would not be complete without a picture across the field. Not all of those green plants out there are corn, but plenty of them are. Sorry, Kathryn, I'm sure you thought you were safe until spring....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mystery in the Backyard, Update #2

In case you can't tell, the latest project in the backyard is a teeter totter. The official maiden voyage of this new toy was actually Sep 17 when a neighbor family joined us for dinner and an evening of teetering. Since then, the main beam was subjected to some weatherproofing and we added another level to the pivot.

This evening, more friends came over to help test this latest version. Here's Arrow and Anchor taming the beast while their siblings wait patiently.

The design is not yet complete, but still available for testing. Do I have any volunteers?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mystery in the Backyard, Update #1

Gretel and I have made some progress on the backyard project, not all of which is documented here.

The posts now have 1-3/8" holes drilled through them... aligned axially north and south if that matters to anyone.

Yep, looks like the holes are lined up close enough to accomplish their purpose.

And finally, a pipe that fits nicely right through the holes. This is really only half of the project, and the lesser complicated half for that matter. We've had several people correctly identify this object so far, but none of them identified it in the comments section. Can you guess what it is?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mystery in the Backyard

We've started a new project in the backyard, but you'll have to guess what it might be.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Corn in the backyard 2010, weeks 18, 19, & Harvest!

August 29

September 5

September 7

And finally an almost clear view of our neighbors again. The field to the right was harvested the day after the field behind our house was cleared, so we're back to our "no-privacy-fence" mode until next spring. Early planting was the norm in the spring of this year, and a relatively dry and hot summer means this fall's harvest is progressing much faster than normal. No word yet on how dry the corn is, or how large the yields are, but the fact that so many fields are bare already is a strong indicator that the crop was ready.

Should be interesting to see what we do for entertainment now that the corn is gone....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What would you like on your tombstone?

When Victoria commented recently about tombstones her family discovered near Bruton Parish in Colonial Williamsburg, she reminded me of some photos I took in the spring of 2009 that have been languishing on my hard drive. There are many interesting tombstones in the graveyard surrounding Bruton Parish, but I'd like to recognize just one in this post.

Judge Nathaniel Beverley Tucker is buried with his wife beneath a prominent granite obelisk just outside the west entrance to Bruton Parish. The east face of the stone is shown above, containing the details of their births and deaths, including the names of their parents. Most people today might recognize him best as a son of St. George Tucker, although Nathaniel's accomplishments are also impressive.
In case you have trouble reading the epitaph in this image of the south face of the monument, the inscription reads:
Descended from Virginia's best blood
Judge Tucker
Was by birth, and training, a gentleman of the old school. He filled with credit, and distinction positions of trust and dignity. Was Judge of the U.S. Court in the Territory of Missouri, and after his return to his native State was the Professor of Law in the College of William and Mary till his death. His influence in developing the minds and character of his pupils was a prominent trait in his character. He was a ready, accurate, and elegant writer. He was hospitable, benevolent, and charitable, And his honour and integrity were without a stain. This eminent scholar and author, upright Judge, learned jurist, constant friend, affectionate Husband and Father, died as he lived a Sage, a Patriot, and a Christian.
Wow. That sounds pretty impressive.

Even though Mr. Tucker's epitaph is impressive, I think I prefer the epitaph on the north face of the stone, which describes his wife, Lucy Ann. Her text reads:

Mrs. Tucker
Was admired, respected, and beloved. She lived an ornament of the society in which she moved. The kind neighbor, and friend, the charm of her household, the faithful wife, the devoted mother, the pure christian. In her life and character were happily blended gentleness and firmness, affability and dignity. She died lamented, as living she was beloved, by all classes of the community.

In both cases, few of us live up to the descriptions carved on this stone, but if I perceive Judge and Mrs. Tucker correctly, I think they may have doubted whether they actually lived up to these words as well.

Finally, I'm sorry that I don't remember what's written on the west face of the monument.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Corn in the backyard 2010, weeks 15 & 17

August 8

August 22

I apologize for not having an image of the corn on August 15. I neglected to get a photographer lined up while we were out of town, so we missed another exciting look at the progress of the corn. That progress is clearly apparent in these two images as the corn is much drier now than it was two weeks ago, and the progress of the shadow across the yard is even evident also. Thanks for visiting!